Disasters & Accidents

Deadly fires, record temperatures in Italy as heatwave takes hold

Rome, Aug 12 (EFE).- Deadly wildfires continued to devour areas of southern Italy Thursday a day after a meteorological station in the Sicilian city of Syracuse registered a temperature of 48.8C (119.85F), potentially the highest ever in Europe.

The new record, which is awaiting verification from the World Meteorological Organization, tops the 48C measured in Athens in 1977.

It comes amid a dangerous heatwave gripping the Mediterranean region, which extends from the North African countries of Algeria and Tunisia to southern Europe’s Italy and Spain.

Wildfires on the Italian islands of Sicily and Sardinia and the southern mainland region of Calabria have so far killed five people, forced the evacuation of several towns and threatened Unesco protected areas.

The three most recent fatalities were farmers, including a Calabria man in his late 70s who died trying to save his livestock.

Several fires continued to burn in Sicily, fueled by soaring temperatures and dry winds.

Local authorities have requested a state of emergency and asked the government to send more aid, including firefighters to add to the 5,000 responders battling the blazes on the island.

In a visit to the island, Italy’s agriculture minister Stefano Patuanelli, said: “The topic of wildfires is an emergency that must have immediate answers and a response to those who have lost everything today.”

So far this year, fires have scorched a combined area of land across Italy equivalent to 140,000 football pitches, four times more than the annual average logged between 2008-20, according to the country’s largest farming association Coldiretti. EFE


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